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I am heading to bed to grab three hours snooze before getting up at 2:30am to watch the Inauguration live. (Curse Australia and it’s proximity to the international date line!)
So, instead of a thoughtful, considered blog post, you get literary sadmasochism, courtesy of Write or Die!, a friendly little web app that punishes a writer for not making their word count.
The idea is to instill the would-be writer with a fear of not writing. We do this by employing principles taught in Introduction to Psychology. Anyone remember Operant Conditioning and Negative Reinforcement?
Negative Reinforcement “strengthens a behavior because a negative condition is stopped or avoided as a consequence of the behavior.”
- Gentle Mode: A certain amount of time after you stop writing, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
- Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
- Kamikaze Mode: Keep Writing or Your Work Will Unwrite Itself
(Thanks to The Book Oven for the heads up)
I’ve been too busy with Clarion South to be able to write longer posts, so here’s a round-up of a few interesting tidbits I’ve seen around the interwebs lately.
Winnie the Pooh to the Rescue
Apparently a Pooh sequel is in development. PersonaNonData quotes a Times article: “Michael Brown, for the trustees who manage the affairs of A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard, said that he had been hoping to give the green light to a sequel for a very long time.” This intrigues me since I was fairly sure A. A. Milne’s works entered the public domain in 2007.
Self Publishing Continues to Grow
Martyn Daniels over at Brave New World comments on the continued rise of self publishing as an option for authors finding it hard to be published. It may be cheaper and easier than ever before. But watching my members’ experiences with POD and self-publishing at QWC, it seems the only ones making money out of it so far are the service companies Daniels mentions, like Authors Solutions.
Canadian Wine Meet Canadian Content
Mark at Index//mb has a nifty marketing idea: pair Canadian books/authors with Canadian wines. Mark, Australian Coriole Wines did a brilliant promotion using exactly this idea a few years ago with Adelaide poets. Poetry and poet bios on the labels, attractive limited edition half-cases with royalties to the poets, and even “Poets in the Vineyard” events with readings and music. I hope Canadian wineries can follow the example!
There are two fixed points in the cultural economy of books; the writer and the reader. Everything in between is up for grabs. And everything in between will need to earn its piece of the action by providing valuable services to writers and readers. Publishers especially have shown little regard for readers and most will need a radical change in culture in order to create a strong enough service culture.
So folks in a 2019 publishing office will be connecting writers and readers with passion, elan, humility and respect. Or not at all.
Your Cultural Policy Has Expired
by Ben Eltham
He even includes publishing in his survey of cultural sectors:
It was Apple’s iPod that drove much of the massive format shift in contemporary music to the MP3. Publishers will also soon be faced by a credible “killer app” that will allow readers to download books at the touch of a pad. It probably isn’t Amazon’s Kindle, but one is likely to emerge in the next generation or two of the industrial ecology. At this point sales of whole product categories of books will plummet as the market migrates online. Of course, as John Hunter has argued, for nimble independent publishers this could prove a massive opportunity, allowing them to access much larger markets than a small print run ever could. Even so, many publishers will have an organisational issue adapting to the new paradigm, and will disappear. This could be disastrous for many Australian writers, who (as Jeremy Fisher has told us) are already doing it tough. This will particularly apply to those in marginal niches — like novelists, who will now have to either publish with small domestic independents or find rare success with international publishers. Change is never painless.
Electric Alphabet has been silent the last two months, and it’s time to fix that.
So, one of my new year’s resolutions is to blog every day. I thought I would have blogged more over the Christmas break, but there’s something about summer that switches off my critical brain. I get sleepy and lazy, like a koala. All I want to do is watch cricket and read books. I’m absolutely certain this resolution will be broken, but it’s great to set the bar high. Now that I’ve finally gotten around to putting WordPress and Twitter on my iPhone I think it will be a lot easier to blog little and often, although I still intend to post longer, more thoughtful pieces as often as possible.
There are a heap of other new year’s resolutions, of course, mostly the usual feeble nods to better diet and exercise, but as far as this blog is concerned, there’s exciting discussion happening all over the interwebs about publishing futures and I’m keen to participate.
To start with, here are some fantastic events I’ll be attending over the next few months:
- January: Clarion South Writers Workshop, Brisbane Australia
- February: O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing, New York, USA
- March: The Ideas Festival, Brisbane, Australia
Maybe I’ll see you there!